Medical Laboratory Scientist – Try it For 5

My name’s Sam Cramer. I’m the PathWest
training coordinator. I started out as a medical scientist in the
microbiology lab, much like this one, so part of my role involves coordinating the Curtin Laboratory Medicine students throughout their practical placements at the different PathWest sites. Aaron Lee, he’s a student from Curtin
completing a Bachelor of Science Laboratory Medicine degree and he’s now completing seven weeks in the microbiology lab. There’s a lot of different sections within
Medical Science. The students complete seven weeks in each of their different majors which
could be in Microbiology, Haematology, Biochemistry, Histopathology, Cytology, Immunology. And
then even within those disciplines, we have a lot of smaller subsections in molecular
and genomics. There’s a broad range of different areas that you could specialise in as a medical scientist. So if there’s anything complex that we need
to investigate, we can do a manual procedure or a manual technique and this basically involves
just your serology. We’ve got these cards which are designed for basically doing your
forward and reverse group. My name’s Narelle Chow and I work for PathWest
at Royal Perth Hospital. I started off with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science at Curtin University and then I did an extra year of postgraduate honours. I then came
out and worked as a casual scientist at Fremantle Hospital in the Histopathology Department.
And then eventually I started my work in blood bank or transfusion medicine and I work in special immunohaematology. So this is now ready for incubation. We’re
going to put it in the incubator. This incubation period is for 15 minutes. It heats it up to
37 degrees and that’s your normal body temperature. So after that what happens is we spin it down
and then basically the reagents will tell us whether or not the patient’s got an antibody. What you learn in university is your theories and then we obviously learn technical skills
as well. But when you come to the job, you’re applying your theory and knowledge to your
everyday work processes and workflows. Say, for example, malaria , you learn about
how obviously malaria is transmitted and then in the lab training you get to look at a various
number of films and help diagnose that. But when you come out into the workplace, you’re
actually applying your knowledge and your theory in real life, so when a patient comes
in through ED and is quite unwell and they do a blood film and they suspect malaria,
it is then up to you to look through the film and look down the microscope and see if you
can detect any parasites. A lot of our methods that we use now, analysers,
has been shrunk down to smaller levels, especially with the use of molecular technology. You
know, you can scan someone’s blood and detect genes which may encode for certain diseases
or malignancies. It certainly makes our lives easier in terms of performing the tests and
making a more efficient service. And that’s what you want for patients. What we’re doing is an ABO blood group so effectively what we’re doing is trying to
find out what blood group they are, whether they’re A pos, O pos, A neg, B neg. So we
do a forward group. So that detects what antigens are on the red cells. And we also do a reverse
cell as well to make sure that the forward and the reverse group match up.
It’s very vital that we always identify the patient correctly and get the blood group
correct. Now they’re probably going to be positive
so you’re better off running everything at the same time.
I supervise the students when they come through. I develop the program in terms of making sure
that they get a broad range of rotation through all the different areas of haematology. We
generally supervise them for the duration of their placement so that they can do things
which obviously allow them to develop their skills and apply the knowledge and theory
that they’ve learnt at university. The future looks really great in terms of
medical science. There’s lots of new up and coming projects and research ideas coming through,
so I’d really like to expand my knowledge and input into the area of haematology malignancy
so in terms of helping transplant patients, bone marrow transplant and stem cell transplant
patients effectively achieve a good recovery in terms of after their therapy and after
their treatment. Research has come a long way. There’s lots of new molecular techniques and I’m hoping to apply or maybe develop new molecular techniques to help us make a more efficient and you know, precise measurement of disease and diagnosing clinical patients.

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